Guy Lavender was commissioned into the British Army in 1988 and completed an 18-year career in the Parachute Regiment, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2006.

On leaving the Armed Forces, he was appointed as the London 2012 Director for the South West of England. Following this, he led Wave Hub, a £42m renewable energy project in Cornwall, before returning to sport as the CEO of Somerset County Cricket Club.

He enjoyed a six-year tenure at the County Ground before departing for the Home of Cricket in 2017. Lavender has been the Chief Executive and Secretary of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) ever since. We caught up with the Lord’s leading man ahead of the season…

Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes gave fans of English cricket two incredible summers in 2022 and 2023. Can we expect the same this year? 

Yes, they’ve encouraged the England team to play with a sense of freedom and enjoyment that has created brilliant and, at times, exhilarating cricket, which we all saw first-hand during the Ashes last summer. It was a difficult tour to India, one of the hardest countries to face in home conditions. By the time they get to Lord’s for the Test series against West Indies in July, they’ll have played a lot of cricket but I’m sure they’ll be energised to play in front of home crowds at the height of the English summer.

Lord’s is the world’s most famous cricket ground. What makes a day here so special? 

There are sporting venues you walk into round the world that just have that history, that sense of greatness from moments in the game and the players who have played there. Lord’s is very much one of those. All the best cricketers talk about Lord’s being the ground above all others they want to play at, and I think that’s the same with fans. Anyone who loves this game wants to visit the Home of Cricket. It’s just a magical place.

We’re very lucky to enjoy a lot of green space at Lord’s, which makes for a wonderful day, giving people the chance to enjoy a quintessential English picnic and soak up the unique atmosphere we have. We count ourselves very fortunate to host two Test matches every summer, the culmination of The Hundred tournament, and other men’s and women’s internationals. All bring different audiences and as a result, different atmospheres to the ground. We are incredibly lucky to have the schedule that we do.

The ground was first founded in 1787 – obviously there have been a few upgrades since then! What can we expect to see next at Lord’s?  

The beauty of Lord’s is each stand is unique in its own regard. Architecturally, we pride ourselves on being one of the prettiest sports grounds to look at, and we’re always looking at how we can improve.

Most recently, the Tavern & Allen stand redevelopment project was signed off by our Members and will be constructed over the next three years, to be ready in time for the Ashes in 2027. This will modernise our two oldest stands (barring the Pavilion!) and bring fantastic new facilities including accessible and sustainable solutions.

We have a new Food Village opening this summer that will transform the way people buy food and drink, making it a much quicker, enjoyable and modern process. There are few better hospitality experiences than a day at Lord’s.

Can you tell us a little about The Willow? 

We’re spoilt for hospitality options at Lord’s and there’s such a great variety, depending on what you want. The Willow is one of our newer offerings and provides an informal backdrop from which to enjoy cricket with like-minded individuals and groups. As with all our catered areas, it’s the food and drink offering that really provides a premium experience, even in these more relaxed surroundings.

But we have it all here, from Pelham’s and the Clock Tower restaurant to Michelin-starred Tommy Banks serving his supremely delicious fare from the beautifully designed Edrich restaurant. A personal favourite of mine, and a bit of a hidden gem, is the Harris Garden. Located right next to the Pavilion, the sense of the history of the ground is palpable, and the buzz and anticipation of people as they pass lends it a special atmosphere.

How are you attracting families to Lord’s and ensuring they have a day – or evening – to remember?  

At Lord’s, we are uniquely positioned with our fixture list to welcome a variety of different audiences. We find that the shorter form fixtures like the Women’s T20 International, the Vitality Blast and The Hundred are very popular with families. 

Value for money is a priority for families and we aim to provide this through our match day offers and activations delivered by Middlesex, ECB and our own Community team, great retail choices and a variety of food and drink. Ultimately, it’s the action on the pitch they’ve come to watch but we try to make the whole experience as enjoyable as possible for all who come to watch cricket at Lord’s.

As well as Test matches, there are also ODIs, county games, T20, The Hundred… Do you have a favourite competition? 

That’s a tough one. I think I’ll always go for Test matches as there’s something about the five-day duel between bat and ball. The ebb and flow of those games really resonates. However, the experience and atmosphere of the Women’s T20 International match last summer against Australia will live with me for a long time. It was one of the best evenings we have had at Lord’s. So many young families joined us to help create a great atmosphere, all of whom are now part of history as Lord’s set an attendance record for women’s cricket for the second year running.

The women’s game has grown hugely in recent years. How do you ensure that growth continues? 

What we have seen is a commitment from across the game, from grassroots to county level and all the way through to the England team to drive the game forward. There are more opportunities for girls to try out cricket now and there are clear pathways for them to pursue their interest in the game and to join county academies. 

We have so many inspiring women playing the game and having those role models cannot be underestimated. At Lord’s we want to ensure we have a great selection of matches, including elite and grassroots women’s matches, to support that growth. Our Foundation and Community teams also do a lot of work to promote cricket to new audiences in Westminster and throughout the UK – the MCC Foundation is now bringing cricket to almost as many state-school girls as boys.

What excites you about the season ahead? 

The first few months of the year are extremely busy, getting the ground ready after a long winter, but as new developments are completed, pitch renovations finalised and players practising out on the Nursery Ground, you know the new season is almost upon you. That’s when the anticipation and excitement really grows for me. Then seeing Middlesex out in the middle to start the summer is always a special feeling. All that said, there aren’t many better feelings than that first ball of a Test match at Lord’s. 

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You served 18 years in the Parachute Regiment, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. How did you apply that experience to your role at the MCC? 

Leadership. Be it then or now, I always try to draw on previous experiences that can help in situations I face day-to-day here. I firmly believe there are strong similarities between running a venue of this magnitude and the military operations I’ve been part of. That need to build high-performing teams who work to clear plans and aren’t put off when problems arise but solve them because they are empowered to do so. We enjoy a lot of marquee moments at Lord’s and the pace of the season is frenetic so I’m always keen to ensure we take a moment to celebrate our successes together.

What excites you about what lies ahead for the Club?

We have a thoroughly exciting summer ahead and it’s always so special to welcome West Indies with their past inextricably linked with this ground. The redevelopment of the Tavern & Allen stands will get underway in September and in the meantime, the future of The Hundred competition promises to dominate in the coming months. I must say, I’m also very fond of the post-season party! ■

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